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    Human Geography: Places and Regions in Global Context, 5e

    Chapter 4: Nature and SocietyPaul L. Knox & Sallie A. MarstonPowerPoint Author: Keith M. Bell

    OverviewThis chapter focuses on the relationship between human beings and their environment, with technology as a mediating force between them. An important point is that the environment, as nature, must be viewed as a social concept or construction as well as the physical universe. As a social construction, the idea or interpretation of nature may vary across different cultures and societal groups. Moreover, this understanding of nature may change over time. Students should be aware that the Western understanding of nature, largely derived from the Judeo-Christian religious tradition, is only one of many possible ways of understanding and making sense of nature.The remainder of the chapter traces the interaction between society and nature in selected cultures. The chapter looks at the transformation of the environment by early humans, before turning to more recent interactions. Among the most influential of these was the Columbian Exchange, or interaction between the Americas and the other continents as part of the conquest and settlement of the Americas by Europeans. Human actions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have had an even greater impact on the environment than did events of previous centuries. The latter part of the chapter explores recent environmental problems and their links to the process of globalization. Students should remember that with the process of globalization, environmental impacts and problems also become global in scope.

    Chapter Objectives

    The objectives of this chapter are to: Understand nature as a concept Investigate Earths transformation by ancient

    humans Explore European expansion and

    globalization Examine recent environmental change

    through human action

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    Chapter Outline Nature as a Concept (p. 128)

    Rachel Carson and the birth of modern environmentalism

    Nature is partially a social construction

    Cultural ecology and political ecology

    U.S. environmental philosophies Origins of the concept of nature

    The Transformation of Earth by Ancient Humans (p. 139) Paleolithic impacts Neolithic peoples and

    domestication Early settlements and their

    environmental impacts

    European Expansion and Globalization (p. 144) Disease and depopulation in the

    Spanish colonies The Columbian Exchange

    Human Action and Recent Environmental Change (p. 148) Environmental problems deriving

    from burning of fuels Environmental problems deriving

    from land-clearing The Globalization of the

    Environment (p. 163) Environmental politics and political

    organization Environmental sustainability

    Conclusion (p. 169)

    Geography Matters 4.1 Geography MattersCultural Ecology

    and Political Ecology (p. 136) Latin American and American Southwest examples of

    these two approaches 4.2 Window on the WorldPeak Oil (p. 152)

    Peak Oil theory and the rate of global petroleum depletion

    4.3 Geography MattersGlobal Climate Change (p. 164) Global Climate Change as an international issue, and

    mitigation efforts

    Nature and SocietyNature and Society constitute a

    complex relationship. Nature is both a physical realm and a social creation.

    The most prominent view of nature in Western culture is derived from the Judeo-Christian tradition, which is

    founded on a belief that humans should dominate nature.

    The early human history included people who revered nature, as well as

    those who abused it.

    Urbanization and industrialization have had extremely degrading impacts on

    the environment.

    Globalization of the political economy has meant that environmental problems

    are global in scope.

    Sustainability has become a predominant way of approaching

    global economic development and environmental change.

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    Nature as a Concept2002 Earth Summit Deformities in frogs

    One model of the naturesociety relation is that nature limits or shapes society, called environmental determinism. Another model posits that society also shapes and controls nature, which in itself is a very complex relationship.

    Nature and Society Defined Nature is a social creation as much as it is the

    physical universe that includes human beings. Society is the sum of the inventions, institutions, and

    relationships created and reproduced by human beings across place and time.

    Technology is: Physical objects or artifacts Activities or processes Knowledge or know-how

    Global Emissionsof Carbon Dioxide

    Each square represents one years global emissions of carbon dioxide, measured by the weight of carbon it

    contains.

    Industrial countries have higher carbon dioxide emissions,

    contributing to rising temperatures through the trapping of heat in Earths

    atmosphere.

    The rural poor are often impelled to degrade their immediate environment

    by cutting forests for fuel wood, plants which would otherwise take in

    carbon dioxide and cool Earths surface.

    Thus, both the core and the periphery are contributing to the problem of

    global climate change.

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    Generalized AquaticFood Chain

    This illustration of the food chain in a Long Island estuary

    demonstrates the nineteenth-century naturalists view.

    Although most ecosystems have complex food chains

    containing numerous relationships among the

    different parts, one rule holds for all:

    The higher the entity is in a food chain, the fewer there are

    of it.

    Nature and Society DefinedThe Dong Family: Urban setting

    The Cuis Family: WeitaiVillage

    The I = P A T formula relates human population pressures on environmental resources to the level of affluence and the access to technology in a society. Compare these families level of affluence. Whose meal traveled the farthest to get to their table? How far does your food travel to get to you?

    Cultural Ecology and Political Ecology

    The cultural ecology approach incorporates three key points: Cultural groups and the

    environment are interconnected by systemic interrelationships.

    Cultural behavior is examined as a function of the cultural groups relationship to the environment through both material and nonmaterial cultural elements.

    Most studies in cultural ecology investigate food production in rural and agricultural settings in the periphery in order to understand how change affects the relationship between cultural groups and the environment.

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    West Nile Virus in CaliforniaThe relationship between people and the environments they create (e.g., an abandoned pool) that encourage the proliferation of mosquitoes explains the Ecology part of political ecology. But the political part is also important.

    U.S. Environmental Philosophiesand Political Views of Nature

    Henry David Thoreau Walden; often credited as the

    originator of U.S. ecological philosophy

    Ralph Waldo Emerson Transcendentalism

    George Perkins Marsh Man and Nature, or Physical

    Geography as Modified by Human Action

    Gifford Pinchot and Theodore Roosevelt

    Rachel Carson Silent Spring

    U.S. Political Views of Nature Conservation and

    Preservation Ecoterrorism Environmental Ethics Ecofeminism

    Wangari Maathai, Kenyan environmental activist (photo)

    Deep Ecology Environmental Justice

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    Paleolithic ImpactsClovis Points: New Mexico, United States

    Cave Paintings: Southern France

    The Settlement of the World

    Early Stone Age people constantly moved over great distances (hunting and foraging for food), which ultimately made them a dispersed species. The map depicts over one million years of migration and potential settlement.

    Neolithic Peoples and Domestication

    Massive animal kills Wheat and flint sickle blade

    The credit for the development of agriculturea technological triumph with respect to naturegoes to the Neolithic (or late Stone Age) peoples and occurred about 10,000 years ago.

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    Irrigation System Near El Centro, Southern California

    Poorly informed management may have led to the demise of the ancient Mesopotamian cities, but increasingly saline soils also currently plague agriculture in California and southwestern Arizona. Siltation and deforestation have been problematic for a substantial portion of human agricultural history.

    European Voyages of Exploration

    This map shows the voyages and missions of Columbus, Pizarro, Cabral, and Corts. Columbus contact with the Americas became a watershed historic event, forever changing the world.

    Population Growth and Environmental Change

    Exponential population growth, coupled with environmental modification (such as this pottery furnace in China), have stressed ecosystems. E. O. Wilson created the HIPPO acronym to describe the loss of biological diversity and extinction: Habitat destruction, Invasive species, Pollution, Population, and Overharvesting. (Source: The Future of Life)

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    The Impact of Energy Needs on the Environment

    Coal mining A tanker oil spill

    From mountain-top mining in West Virginia to Gulf War oil well fires in Kuwait, nuclear waste disposal in Novaya Zemlya to global warming, our desire for industrial fuels is having a dramatic impact on the planet.

    Disease and Depopulation inSpanish Colonies

    Little disagreement exists among historians that European colonization of the New World was eventually responsible for the greatest loss of human life in history. Virgin soil epidemics: w